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This week I wanted to share with you one of my favorite variants in the Legacy format. It is one of the more well-known ones, but it is still pretty obscure. The sub-format is called Legacy Tribal Wars, which is appealing to anyone with an affinity for any given “tribe” of creatures in Magic. Here are the deck construction rules, direct from the Wizards website:

“Tribal Wars is a casual Magic Online format that emphasizes creature combat: A player’s deck must contain a minimum of sixty cards, and one-third of every deck must be of a single creature type. No sideboards are allowed in tribal formats.

Tribal Wars is based on the Legacy format, so all cards on Magic Online, including promo cards, are legal.”

That’s it. All you need to play is a few goblins, elves, or merfolk lying around and you’re good to go! The format does have a ban list. Mostly, the following cards are either the standard overpowered stuff or they just screw with tribes or tribal mechanics; one example would be Engineered Plague. Here’s the ban list:

Legacy Tribal Wars Ban List

(33)
Arboria
Balance
Channel
Circle of Solace
Demonic Consultation
Demonic Tutor
Engineered Plague
Extinction
Fastbond
Flash
Imperial Seal
Library of Alexandria
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mishra’s Workshop
Moat
Necropotence
Peer Pressure
Skullclamp
Sol Ring
Stasis
Strip Mine
Survival of the Fittest
The Abyss
Time Vault
Tinker
Tolarian Academy
Tsabo’s Decree
Umezawa’s Jitte
Vampiric Tutor
Wheel of Fortune
Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Yawgmoth’s Will

There is a ton of room for growth and development, as every tribe is totally legal. From Allies to Zombies, there is a tribe for just about everyone. Here are a few of my favorite tribes and decks:

Demons

Choosing the Demon tribe may seem like a serious bad choice, especially since most Demons cost a lot of mana, usually because they are very powerful! Fortunately, there are a few that aren’t too expensive. Abyssal Persecutor is one of the best cards in the deck. He runs at a lean 4 mana, and can close games very quickly. Herald of Torment is a newbie from Born of the Gods with which I have had a lot of success; the turn one casting off of Dark Ritual will be able to outclass most other early creatures for the next few turns. Desecration Demon is the other best low-cost Demon. While not ridiculously powerful against a weenie horde that is spawning multiple dudes a turn to tap down the big boy, he at least prevents them from overrunning the board at a ridiculous rate. Here is my list:

Legacy Tribal Wars: Demons by Peyton

Creatures (20)
Abyssal Persecutor
Herald of Torment
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Desecration Demon
Reaper from the Abyss
Griselbrand

Spells (12)
Dark Ritual
Diabolic Edict
Geth’s Verdict
Inquisition of Kozilek

Artifacts (5)
Lotus Bloom
Quicksilver Amulet
Lands (23)
Bloodstained Mire
Verdant Catacombs
11 Swamp
Cavern of Souls

The sacrifice effects are the only removal I use because they also allow me to get rid of Percy (Abyssal Persecutor) once I have “won” the game. The Lotus Blooms and Quicksilver Amulets make it easier to play the bigger, badder demons like Griselbrand and Reaper from the Abyss without packing a ton of lands. Speaking of the Reaper, he is a mighty tool against most decks running small creatures or flyers, as they are forced to chump block and then have their one chance of winning nuked my him. All of our creatures are Demons, so the ability won’t backfire to kill one of ours. A little discard in the form of Inquisition of Kozilek rounds out my list. It could just as easily be Thoughtseize, but Heralds will already cost some life and there is no way to gain life except to attack with big G-Brizzle. And for the record: Demonic Taskmaster is just bad. This deck often has no more than three creatures in play at once, and it is not worth it to sacrifice them to this dork. Master of the Feast has a similar issue; he provides too much advantage to the opponent, and running Notion Thief to counter it.

Nephilim

This is a weird one. A really weird one. The Nephilim are totally obscure and strange as a tribe, with only five different Nephilim ever printed, but some of them have powerful abilities that work well in multiples. Unfortunately, one of the Nephilim does not fit in well with the others: Ink-Treader Nephilim works really well with pump spells, but not with Swords to Plowshares and any other targeted removal. So, to fill the extra 4 slots needed with 4 of each other Nephilim, I turned to good ol’ Chameleon Colossus. Technically, he counts, and the general rule is that only 4 changeling creatures may be played per tribal deck. Here is my list:

Legacy Tribal Wars: Nephilim by Peyton

Nephilim Creatures (20)
Yore-Tiller Nephilim
Dune-Brood Nephilim
Witch-Maw Nephilim
Glint-Eye Nephilim
Chameleon Colossus

Non-Nephilim Creatures (12)
Birds of Paradise
Sylvan Caryatid
Utopia Tree

Enchantments (4)
Blessing of the Nephilim
Lands (24)
Reflecting Pool
Cavern of Souls
City of Brass
Pillar of the Paruns
Gemstone Mine
Ancient Ziggurat

The five colors necessary to play those Nephilim on time are necessitated by the magical Mana Dork parade and a host of multi-colored lands. There are no other spells except for Blessing of the Nephilim, which gives any given creature that wants to attack +4/+4. This is especially potent on Witch-Maw Nephilim, which is the real heavy hitter of the deck after a few spells have been cast. As previously stated, all lands in the deck make all colors of mana, so hopefully a few quick mana dorks can be thrown down so that the Nephilim can be cast without a color-fixing headache. That’s right, good (bad?) ol’ Utopia Tree gets thrown into the spotlight here. Both Birds of Paradise and Sylvan Caryatid are strictly better, but I like the inclusion of an extra mana guy to get the ball rolling quickly. There could be a couple of Harmonize in the deck to draw more cards; I have yet to experiment with this. This deck is a little bit less competitive than the Demons deck or the one below, but it is still a blast to play. You know that you always wanted to use those crazy Nephilim buggers; here is your chance.

Kor

This one feels almost cheaty. Without knowing much about the Tribal Wars format, I put together a Kor list just so that I could abuse Stoneforge Mystic in the format. Apparently, several others have had the same diabolical plot, and the deck is one that, while not extremely common, might very well be seen in any given Legacy Tribal Wars event. The premise is simple: play Kor White Weenie and win with Swords and Batterskull.

Legacy Tribal Wars: Kor by Peyton

Creatures (25)
Stoneforge Mystic
Armament Master
Kor Duelist
Kor Firewalker
Kor Skyfisher
Kor Outfitter
Puresteel Paladin

Artifacts (9)
Batterskull
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow
Deathrender
AEther Vial

Spells (5)
Swords to Plowshares
Steelshaper’s Gift
Lands (21)
Plains
Flagstones of Trokair
Wasteland
Cavern of Souls
Ancient Den

Oh, it pains me so that Umezawa’s Jitte is banned! I really wish that I could include it, but it is typically very powerful against creature-based strategies, and Tribal Wars is all about creature combat so the card is a little bit broken. Anyways, I have included a sword of each color to potentially deal with any mono- or multi-colored deck whose creatures I either need to block or attack past to get in damage. The deck amazingly curves out at a mere two mana, which makes AEther Vial efficient and easy to use, and provides a nice little trick with Kor Outfitter and Kor Skyfisher, who either provide a free, instant equip of any equipment, or save a permanent from destruction of some kind. Most of the Kor and pretty good at holding equipment. Armament master makes all of the other seemingly weaker Kor do something useful. Kor Duelist is the only 1-drop creature, but he is brutally efficient at wielding Swords and Batterskull for maximum effect. Puresteel Paladin is the only non-Kor creature, and for good reason: free equip is an abundantly powerful ability, and the addition of Ancient Den makes getting Metalcraft all that much easier. This is likely the most competitive of the three tribal decks that I have laid out here. This is likely because it is basically Stoneblade, just with a bunch of Kor and no Jitte.

Those are three of my favorite Tribal Wars decks. What are yours? Leave a comment below with your favorite tribe, or one you might want to use in this epic sub-format. Some of my other favorites are:

Eldrazi, Beast, Myr, Elemental, Cleric, Minotaur, Chimera (woah! – see Brass-Talon Chimera and friends) Ally…. The possibilities are almost endless!

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you next week!

/Peyton

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